Roman constructions are frequently found in Maremma, and their ruins have often been used as the foundations for new buildings. This is the case with the ancient Ponte del Diavolo (I-II century AD) located in what is now known as Pian di Barca, that once enabled the ancient Via Aurelia to cross the Ombrone river.
In March 2019, the cycle/pedestrian bridge was inaugurated, named Eugenio Luigi Bellucci (known by the nickname 'Gigi della Barca') in memory of the legendary ferryman from between the 1920s and the 1960s. The bridge allows us to cross the river in the same place as the ancient Romans, and connects Grosseto to the Maremma Park.
Length: 37 km
Altitude / difference in height: 50 mt
Type of ground: asphalt, dirt bike path with compact ground
Percentage of dirt road: 25%
Recommended bike: tour, mountain bike
The itinerary begins in Grosseto, in Piazza Marconi. Here, we take the cycle/pedestrian path of the Mameli and Sonnino pathways until we arrive at the San Lorenzo district. From Via Magenta, the cycle route becomes a stretch of road of mixed use, and then climbs the bank of the Ombrone river for about 4 km to reach Le Colonne. The itinerary then descends from the embankment, continuing in the floodplain on the route of the old Aurelia, and then crosses the Ombrone via the cycle bridge.
After passing the Ombrone, we are within the Maremma Park. Follwing a short stretch of road, we arrive at Spergolaia where we can admire the Maremma horses grazing and maybe meet the Buttero (local herdsman), a symbol of the Maremma and a still irreplaceable figure for the management of wild herds. The role has been included among a list of professions to be preserved.
In Spergolaia, we take the cycle path and pedal southwards along the provincial road to Piazza del Combattente, the main square of Alberese, a village that develops at the foot of a hill where we find the Fattoria Granducale, a property of the Tuscany Region. The building, together with the Tenuta di Alberese, was once under the possession of the Habsburgs-Lorraine until the First World War, when the Italian government expropriated the Tenuta Alberese and assigned it to the Opera Nazionale Combattenti. The strong demographic increase that followed was due to the immigration of Venetian and Friulian families.
After passing the inhabited center, we continue for another 1 km in a southerly direction following the Provincial Road, until we find the Strada di Valle Giardino on our left where the large pines offer shelter from the wind or summer heat, depending on the season. We walk along Via dei Ponti Neri and Via del Molinaccio until we reach a railway underpass. We then turn left onto Strada del Barbicato. After 2 km on via del Barbicato, turn right, crossing the Provincial Road after about 1 km, which we take towards Alberese. Then, after 300 meters, we turn right onto Strada della Dogana. We go along the left bank of the river taking the Via della Dogana, which after about 3 km weaves back into the provincial road. We then follow it carefully towards Alberese for about 1 km and then turn right, finding the Vecchia Aurelia near Spergolaia. Then we retrace the road that leads from the bridge to Grosseto.